Parents: You get report cards for your children, but what about the school they attend? Missouri lawmakers are debating a bill that would do just that.
If the bill - which is currently in the Missouri House - passes, schools would start receiving letter grades based on their performance on school improvement program standards.
Schools would be graded from F to A+ based upon the percentage of possible points they receive.
This grade would come from the Department of Secondary Education and, Palmyra R-1 Superintendent Eric Churchwell says would be based on growth data. That means whether or not the students improved their Missouri Assessment Program test scores.
"It doesn't look at the whole big picture," said Churchwell. "You're going to give a school building a grade based on one thing? We all know there's a lot more than one thing that goes into how good or bad a school building could be."
Churchwell's concern is that high-performing school districts have less room to grow and are not going to get as good a score if there's not as much room to improve as say, a school that has lower MAP scores one year that maybe gets average scores the next.
Churchwell says something like this would be misleading to the community and to parents on how a school is performing.
Churchwell says his school district has been accredited with distinction every year since that system began more than ten years ago.
Palmyra High School student Isabelle Dames says that by striving hard on state testing every year, she fears her school wouldn't be getting the grade it deserves. And that, she says, would be a disappointment to her and her classmates.
"It would probably make us feel not very good because we work really hard on getting good test grades but then our grade of our school isn't very good," said Dames.
Palmyra High School guidance counselor and teacher Kendra Tiemann says the school always has a goal of readying its students for college and their careers beyond high school. She says that's what a school should be graded on. It's information, she says, the state has. She has to check in a year after graduation with each student to find out whether they are in college, working, or unemployed. She says this is a real measure of how well a school is preparing its students for life outside its walls.
"All that data is in the system so the state has that and that's real data," said Tiemann. "That isn't a proposed data that a test score might lead to this. It's real data that each school district has on their graduates."
Tiemann said the report card bill is supposed to show parents how well the school is preparing the students for life after graduation. Tiemann says she is surprised it wouldn't be using the follow-up data each school has to collect on where their graduates are a year after graduating to measure that rather than the A through F score based on test improvements.
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